Sunday, April 23, 2017

Two of my incredible PLNs are PasstheScopeEDU and NCEd. They are filled with talented people who, seriously, I’m privileged to learn with. Over the past few months, Kyle Hamstra, Ron Madison and Brendan Fetters have been urging, encouraging, suggesting, use whatever adjective you want to, that I write about Periscope. But, I’ve been too busy. Too busy working. Too busy Periscoping. Too busy doing … life!

Enter stage right.  Mom and Aunt Martha.

My amazing mom, who is turning 79 this year, told me about a conversation she had with my Aunt Martha the other day.  Mom was giving her an update on the family and what everyone has been up to. Apparently, when it came to me, the question that came up was, “Why?”

Why, at this point in my career, am I investing so much time and energy in all these crazy new things like Periscope and virtual reality?  Why not relax and enjoy just teaching?  It all seems so stressful. What's the point?

There are probably several blogs wrapped up in that paragraph, but I’m going to start here.  Why should teachers invest time and energy in all these crazy new techie things? I have an answer. Because, these techie tools enable us to see the point of everything we do.

I’ve needed to write about Periscope for a while.  This is the first in a series about the power of Periscope and live streaming in general to capture the point of what we do in education.  The first one is how Periscope amplifies student voice and how we can use it to capture authentic learning. I don't think I'm being hyperbolic.  Next, I'm going to write about why I choose Periscope over other live streaming platforms. Other blogs will be more practical and “how-to” oriented.

I would love your comments and feedback as I write these blogs and become a more active blogger. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Periscoping Young Innovators

I'm on a mission to listen to kids tell me what they know.  After Periscoping NCTIES17 I had a thought-provoking Voxer conversation with Kyle Hamstra about the value of giving students this type of platform and what comes next.


That brings me to Mountain View Elementary, one of the schools that I serve as an Instructional Technology Facilitator and one of the busiest schools in our district. There are amazing things going on in every nook and cranny of that building.

For the past few weeks I've been working with the students in Teresa Costner's class. Teresa is a dedicated, talented math teacher who is a magician when it comes to empowering her students to take the lead in their learning.  The project that was appearing before my eyes was the 6th grade's Young Innovators and Inventors Impacting the Future project.  Students took a closer look at their own world to discover an area that they could improve or change. They researched to discover more about the problem and to find ways to enhance an existing concept or to design a creation of their own. Students created a marketing plan that included an advertising poster and an infomercial. I got to help them use Aurasma to create augmented reality with their marketing poster and infomercial. They presented their plans to their classmates and to school officials and community members in a Shark Tank-like competition.

Periscoping the Semi-Finals

Sometimes the best ideas come to you in the shower. Well, for me the best ideas come to me when I'm lugging a huge Google Expeditions case out of my car and down the hallway.  What if I Periscoped the semi-finalists after their first round of Shark Tank presentations?  They would be prepared. They would be excited after surviving the presentation in front of the judges and a Periscope interview would capture their invention and a little bit about the story behind how they came up with the idea.

The kids knocked it out of the park. They were excited to be broadcasting LIVE on Periscope (or, as I explained it - Facebook Live for Twitter). They were articulate and every one of them told an amazing story about a problem that concerned them in their own life that they solved by inventing and creating something new. The results of the interviews are on this Young Innovators project website.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Periscoping NCTIES

Student Showcases Website
Student Showcases Website

I had an epiphany the week before NCTIES17.

I feel passionately about the power of Periscope in
education. But, why? What value does Periscoping bring to my students, my school or my district? Why should my boss send me to the North Carolina Technology in Education Society conference and let me spend 2 days talking to students instead of sitting in sessions learning from experts?  Well, hold on to your Live Stream, 'cuz here it comes.

It is the point of everything we do.

People who know me know I am prone to hyperbole, but,

not this time!

Periscope has the power to show us (educators) the results of our investments in learning new things.

Back in the Day

Early in my education career, I worked for an amazing Principal, Beth Isenhour, who believed in the phrase "begin with the end in mind".  I believe that sometimes the end gets lost.  It can get lost in the pressure to test, to tie every last thing to a standard, to communicate clearly to a wide range of stakeholders, and in doing the important, difficult work of guiding young people through a year of learning. To "begin with the end in mind", we have to see the "end".   It's hard to imagine how Google Apps for Education training, a week of __Insert Important Instructional Program Here ___, a pilot program in project based learning and the latest update on interventions could possibly be amazing in my 7th grade classroom. It is really hard to see the forest for the trees!

This is why we do it

Watch these kids. Listen to them tell you what they know and why it is amazing. Capturing student showcases using Periscope shows us the end; the culmination;  the alchemy of professional development in tech tools and pedagogy mixed with each teacher's mysterious art of teaching.
It shows us that it's worth it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Summer Learning => School Year Transformation

My Twitter and Facebook are full of the same lament lately. Where has the summer gone? How can it be that the lazy days of summer that I remember as a kid somehow fly by now that I'm ... (Well, we'll just leave that sentence unfinished.)

There are more than a few things unfinished around here. I didn't paint the hallway and it got too hot to have a garage sale. On the professional side, I didn't finish the stack of books that I hoped to read and I still have a ways to go to complete my website. But, I did complete a few things.  I read Launch by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani.  The Launch book study combined with a collaboration between Toutoule Ntoya and some amazingly creative uses of Snapchat shared by Cynthia Day have led to concrete ideas for the 2016/17 year. We plan to connect our students to collaborate on life-based science projects using a variety of digital tools for data collection, research and sharing.

There's a lot more and that brings me to #PasstheScopeEDU, August Edition. Our topic for August 18, 2016 is how we're taking what we did this summer and implementing it in our educational practice this year. Beginning at Noon EST and lasting all day, teachers, technology coaches, administrators, curriculum specialists and consultants across the country and around the world will be sharing their plans for taking their summer learning back to school to transform their school year.

For tips on how to tune in and participate in Pass the Scope EDU, check out my friend and super amazing educator Derek Larson's blog at: Ed-Tech Babble

Here's the Broadcast Lineup for #PasstheScopeEDU, August Edition.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

#PassTheScopeEDU - Creating Something New for the 2016-17 School Year

The July broadcast of PasstheScopeEDU is Thursday, July 21st and the line up of educators who
will be sharing their wisdom keeps growing. This month educators across the country will be sharing their plans for the upcoming school year, how we are creating something new, trying something different or stretching out of our comfort zones to grow and benefit students.  Check out this schedule and tune into the broadcasts. You won't be disappointed!

Check out Derek Larson's blog for recaps on previous month's #Passthe ScopeEDU broadcasts:

This month PasstheScopeEDU broadcasters cover the entire US and then some!

Monday, June 27, 2016

When You Know Something, Tell People!

I'm not usually competitive in conference games. I think they're fun, but when I'm actually at the conference, I'm too distracted to participate.  But, #notatISTE16 has been different. It was in my "Summer Learning" plan to participate in #notatISTE16 and I've been drawn into a lot of the #shenanigans as well as a TON of learning and connecting.

Creating my #notatISTE16 badge and customized ribbon counts as fun if not necessarily #shenanigans.  To get points in the #notatISTE16 challenge, you have to share the badge and tweet about it.  Almost immediately, @Kitty_Tripp tweeted back: 
I could have ignored this exhortation to create and share; replied nicely and moved on, but something about Kitty's Tweet struck me. I'm always talking on Voxer and tweeting on Twitter about empowerment, sharing and creation. This is an example of doing just that. Instead of simply completing the challenge, getting my points and moving on to the next thing, what if I actually empowered others to do the same.  
So, I did.   

When you know something, tell people so they can know too.

Thank you Kitty for pushing me outside my comfort zone. 

Link to: How to Make Your Own #notatiste16 Riboon
(This link might expire... Not sure about links. I'm uploading to Youtube next.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

One Big Idea and Global Connections

The topic on PasstheScopeEDU this month was One Big Idea and Global Connections. I have to confess that this topic had me stumped mostly because I’m terrible at narrowing things down to just one thing. There are so many tech tools and I want to learn all of them. There are so many things that need to be done in education. There are so many books that I want to read and every time I tune into EduMatch I add a few more to my list. And what about conferences;  the list of conferences that I wish I could go to is long and expensive.  

And, don’t get me started on Twitter chats and Voxer Groups. My Hootsuite has a tab for every day of the week so that I can follow and tune into the chats going on anywhere, any time. I actually said that I wished I had a longer commute so I could have more time to listen to my Voxes.  Who says that?

Part of this is complicated by my role as an instructional technology facilitator which kind of requires you to be a jack of all trades. I support five schools from Pre-K to Early College High School and I provide support to teachers and staff in everything from our gradebook system, the state assessment and instructional support system, website creation and maintenance,  Google Apps for Education, Learning Management Systems, almost any cool website or app that teachers are interested in and troubleshooting on iPads, Chromebooks, PCs, laptops and every once in awhile Macs and even installation of equipment like clickers, SMART boards, and other classroom hardware. Phew - It might sound like I’m complaining but I’m NOT. Part of what I love about my job is the variety and the constant challenge!

But, One big idea? Just ONE. hmmm….

So, I want to switch gears for just a minute and tell you about the NC State Friday Institute Innovation Bootcamp on June 16, 2016 and how you never know who or what is going to bring you to a key understanding. Steven Weber gave the closing Keynote at the Innovation Bootcamp and he framed his talk around asking questions.

My question was how to focus on One Big Idea?  What’s THE most important or at least what’s THE most important to me? What am I good at or passionate about so that I can actually make a difference?

Add to the mix a conversation I had with another amazing educator, Nathan Stevens. The idea choosing One Big thing seemed limiting, especially when so much is changing and so much needs to be done.  His comments resonated with me especially in my job serving five schools in using technology effectively for instruction.  How could there be One Thing that would apply to all teachers and, by extension, students in Pre-K through Early College?
One last story … Have you seen Hamilton? If you said yes, you have my eternal jealousy!  I was watching an interview of  Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star, and he said he never felt like the smartest person in school. The term he used was “treading water” being surrounded by geniuses.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: You know, I went to a school where everyone was smarter than me. And I'm not blowin' smoke, I, my, I was surrounded by genius, genius kids. What's interesting about growing up in a culture like that is you go, "All right, I gotta figure out what my thing is. Because I'm not smarter than these kids. I'm not funnier than half of them, so I better figure out what it is I wanna do and work really hard at that." And because intellectually I'm treading water to, to be here.
Charlie Rose: So why do you think I'm sitting here talking to you and not sitting here talking to one of your classmates?
Lin-Manuel Miranda: 'Cause I picked a lane and I started running ahead of everybody else. So I, that's the honest answer. It was like, I was like, "All right THIS."
“Cause I picked a lane.”  

So, now I’m back to choosing One Big Idea.  Clearly there’s some benefit to focus, right?

Last tidbit to my story. Really. I promise.  Steven played the Moonshot video as part of  keynote is in my brain about asking the the right questions.   Then he showed the Moonshot video.  Even if you've seen it before, listen to Astro Teller's segment at 2m16 sec. It's faster/better than me explaining.

What am I bothered by?  Well, the list is pretty long in education these days, right?

  • Kids aren’t on grade level.
  • Too much emphasis on passing tests.
  • Not enough emphasis on learning that lasts.
  • Technology moves so fast, I can barely keep up, and I LIKE technology.
  • Professional Development rarely meets my needs.
  • How do I reach the crazy, heartbreaking, diverse needs of the kids in my classroom AND teach my standards?
  • Or now, how do I support the teachers and staff in five schools from Pre-K to Early College?

What’s the one thing that helps me deal with all the challenges of this job?  Is there one answer?  I wouldn’t have made you read this long story if I didn’t believe there is!
For me, everything changed when I started becoming a connected educator and I’ve decided that THAT is my One Big Idea.

It addresses everything doesn’t it? Being connected empowered me to figure out how to help kids who aren’t on grade level. When I discovered the #flipclass chat on Twitter in changed everything.  At first, I was too terrified to participate. I just lurked, but finally I asked a question and Brian Bennett and Cheryl Morris and Andrew Thommason tweeted back. They were amazingly generous with their time and their knowledge.  And it changed everything. Before I knew it, I had flipped my classroom and started reaching those kids.

There are chats and connected educators willing to help you learn and grow, anywhere, any time.  I won’t address every single thing on MY list, but here’s my mission….

I wasn't bothered, but today, I choose to be bothered. And I choose to believe that it is possible to connect them all.

My One Big Idea

It's something I'm passionate about. It's something I can do with the help of the amazing people in my PLN and it will change everything.